APTQI Warns Deep Cuts in Final PFS Rule Will Undermine Patient Access to Physical Therapy Services
Eight percent across-the-board cut in 2021 finalized despite lawmaker, sector concerns
Washington, D.C. –– The Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation (APTQI) today expressed disappointment in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Calendar Year (CY) 2020 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Payment System Final Rule, which imposes an eight percent Medicare cut to physical and occupational therapy services starting in 2021.
“Inflicting more deep cuts on the delivery of physical therapy services will undermine patient access to the care they need to rehabilitate after injury, remain safely at home and avoid hospitalizations,” said Nikesh Patel, PT, Executive Director of APTQI. “Instead of encouraging the use of therapy services to improve patient quality of life and reduce healthcare costs, Medicare has repeatedly made deep cuts to therapy services, reducing our ability to meet the care needs of vulnerable seniors across the United States.”
The recent cuts follow a series of reimbursement reductions implemented by CMS over the past eight years. In 2011, CMS implemented a multiple procedure payment reduction policy cut, which was deepened further in 2013. Just last year, several PT billing codes were reduced in CMS’ National Correct Coding Initiative, including codes that PTs use most frequently for therapeutic exercise and manual therapy. Further, under current policy, physical therapists are set to experience another 15 percent Medicare cut for services provided by a physical therapist assistant in 2022.
“Considering bipartisan members of Congress and approximately 2,300 APTQI therapists alone sent letters to CMS warning against this payment cut and the devastating consequences it could have on the delivery of physical therapy services, CMS’ decision to finalize these cuts is incredibly disappointing,” added Patel. “We remain committed to working with CMS and lawmakers on Capitol Hill to ensure policies are put in place that mitigate these cuts before their planned implementation in 2021.”
Data shows physical therapy is a cost-effective first intervention that improves outcomes and reduces spending, especially when utilized early in the treatment process.